Among the new arrivals at the iSchool this fall is one of the largest doctoral cohorts the school has ever seen. Interim Dean David Seaman formally welcomed the cohort to the school in September.

Professor Steven Sawyer, who directs the iSchool’s doctoral program, said that the cohort size was a reflection of the school’s commitment to making the program more attractive and competitive. Sawyer commended the students for taking a chance on a field of study that he said isn’t “fully understood.”

“We’ve been able to do a better job recruiting, people picked us over other places,” Sawyer said. “They’ve made a commitment with their feet and with their head, and they’re all incredibly hard-working people.”

Charis Asante-Agyei is originally from Ghana, but he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Technological Systems Management from SUNY Korea. He is currently researching how digital technologies shape the future of work, with an emphasis on the Global South. Asante-Agyei has organized STEAM camps to educate people in his native Ghana and in Burkina Faso. He said he was inspired to join the iSchool due to its leading experts in the field of information communications technology for development.

Dipto Das hails from Bangladesh, where he received his bachelor’s before travelling to the United States to earn a master’s degree from Missouri State University. Das is researching information science and technology, focusing on human and computer interactions. Das has published work on sarcasm and social media, and satire and fake news.

Yiran Duan is from China, and earned her bachelor’s degree in ethnology from Minzu University. She also holds a master’s degree in anthropology from Florida State University. At the iSchool, she focuses on the intersection of social media studies, information policy and the use of documents in social media, and is currently researching flagging and reporting tools on social media sites and apps. 

Ania Korsunska is a transfer student from Temple University, currently researching the spread of misinformation about research in the health and medical sectors. She received a master’s degree in medical sociology from the University of Chicago, and previously earned a bachelor’s degree from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

Lenka “Leni” Krsova is from the Czech Republic, where she received her bachelor’s degree in theatre theory and critics from The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Krsova earned a master’s degree in new media studies from Charles University in Prague, and she is currently researching social networks & information flow and virality, “datafication” of human online presence on social media platforms, misinformation news and narratives they produce, and digital humanities.

Sucheta Lahiri is originally from India, and holds a master’s in statistics from Banaras Hindu University and another master’s in information science from the Indian Statistical Institute. Lahiri also worked in analysis and risk management for companies such as Deloitte, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and IBM before coming to the iSchool.

Isabel Munoz was originally born in Mexico City, but she was raised in Wyoming, where she received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wyoming. At the iSchool, Isabel is researching information systems design and issues of access, literacy, and optimization of information and communication technologies (ICT) for marginalized and underserved populations. Munoz said that she chose her program to dive deeper into the design of communications technologies, and also to help the underrepresentation of Latinx people in STEM. 

Ellen Simpson hails from Vermont, where she received her bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Vermont. She earned a master’s degree from the University of London in media power and public affairs. Simpson said her master’s dissertation led her to her current interest in social media tagging systems. Other focuses of her research at the iSchool include transitions, digital expressions of identity, and political protest in digital spaces.

Niraj Sitaula is studying information science at the iSchool. His past projects include a presentation at iConference 2018 in the United Kingdom on deleted Wikipedia articles with iSchool professor Lu Xiao, and a first place award from the Broadcast Education Award for a paper he worked on with Newhouse professors Beth Egan and Fiona Chew.

Katerina Stanton earned her bachelor’s degree in Classics in Latin and Greek from Cornell University, and received her master’s in library and information science from the iSchool. She returned to research design in librarianship, knowledge organization, ontologies, and the philosophy of information. Stanton is currently working on projects including domain analysis of design in library classification systems, a diversity audit of the syllabi in library educational programs, and methodological decolonization.

Jieun Yeon is researching the social roles of libraries at the iSchool. She is investigating the perception of libraries and their value, as well as the behavior of library patrons looking for information. Yeon is also researching how libraries are perceived both in the U.S. and in an international viewpoint.

Feature photo, from left to right: Charis Asante-Agyei, Ania Korsunska, Isabel Munoz, Leni Krsova, Yiran Duan, Jieun Yeon, Ellen Simpson, Sucheta Lahiri, and Dipto Das. Not shown:  Niraj Sitaula and Katerina Stanton. Photo by Nick Lyga.